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March 22, 2013 By Hendrik-Jan Francke

6 Ways to Make your Website a Resource for Journalists

Guest Post by Heather McElrath, a PR, Marketing, and Communications Professional.

Easily accessible content is essential for users, especially journalists. Heather provides six important tips for creating a news room that is a resource for reporters on your beat.

Journalists today are reporters, social media mavens, video editors photographers, and sometimes even more - all at the same time. Your website is often their first stop to getting background information for a story. If they can’t find what they need, you’re likely to lose an opportunity to be included. Creating a one-stop news room that can become a bookmarked resource makes information easy to find and use.

I recommend that every news room have these six features:

Contact information

And not a generic news@domain.com and an 800 number. With today’s 24/7 news cycle, journalists often file several stories a day, and need to get to someone right away – their deadline is in an hour not a day. So, add contact information to the website that isn’t generic; give a person’s name and direct phone number. If possible, it’s also best to include a cell phone number. In addition, if your organization is on Twitter or Facebook (or another social media outlet) be sure to include that. Today, many reporters will reach out through Twitter.

Searchable press releases

Press releases aren’t used verbatim – instead, they are used as background information. However, journalists are beat-specific and only want information pertaining to their expertise. So, make it easy for the journalist to find the right information quickly with a search for the press releases only. Also, don’t put your press releases in .pdf. Aside from not helping your SEO, .pdfs make it more difficult for a journalist to cut and paste information into a story.


Downloadable pictures, graphs or charts, video, podcasts, webinars, etc., all go a long way to help a busy journalist meet their deadline. However, be sure to tailor the medium to your organization. For example, corporations should have photos of executives, which often will be used to go with a quote. A science organization may want charts or graphs to help visually explain subjects, while a consumer organization may want photos or videos to better illustrate products.

White papers and/or case studies

Show off your knowledge. Journalists want to speak to the experts, and by including white papers or case studies, you illustrate your organization's expertise. And don’t let the concept scare you – they do not have to involve dozens of pages. In fact, shorter is better. Think about what you’ve done for another client and summarize the process and the outcomes into a white paper or case study.

Media kit

Even if your website has an “About Us” section, create a media kit with background information on your organization – include history, officers and other information that explains who you are. The main focus of a news room is to have all the information that a journalist may need in one place. It may be a bit redundant, but it’s helpful.

Vanity URL

Get a web address that will take a journalist directly to your news room. For SEO purposes, it’s best to have something like www.domain.com/news or www.domain.com/media, but media.domain.com or news.domain.com are also helpful. Put this in your email signature, on your business cards, and tell every journalist you know. Having direct access to the newsroom gets the journalist to your information faster saving her time, and making you look good.

Aside from these ideas, just put yourself in the journalist’s shoes:

  • What is needed to write a story?
  • Why is your company the right fit for the story?
  • Are there graphics that could go with a story?
  • Can the information be found and found quickly?

About the Author

Heather McElrath has nearly 20 years of communications experience – starting her career as a journalist and transitioning to public relations. She has a passion for communications, and recently launched www.heathermcelrath.com, a blog dedicated to sharing information about communications and creating a community to exchange ideas.

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